A Love Affair with Words

I love writers. Love how much they love words. Love how they seem to know from the earliest age, that words are more than just letters strung together, they’re…






As I pondered this, I looked back at those early days when I started to discover I was a word person. And I wondered…

When did writing first sing to us? To me? To you? Whose words first stirred us, deep within?

For me, it was:

  • A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books, read to me by my mom.
  • The Pink Room. One of the first novels I ever read. I don’t remember the story, haven’t been able to find it anywhere so don’t know the author, but I remember like it was yesterday the impact the story had on me. How it transported me.
  • C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, read in installments in our Sunday School paper.
  • The Trixie Beldon series—Go, Bobwhites!
  • The Miss Bianca series—the actual books, not the Disney incarnations. Trust me, the real Miss Bianca books are NOT Disney. These books showed me how wonderfully awful villains can be, and how truly inspiring reluctant heroes are.

So how about you? What are the books or stories that first breathed the love of words into your soul?


33 Responses to A Love Affair with Words

  1. Avatar
    Jackie Layton January 28, 2015 at 5:07 am #

    Hi Karen,

    What a fun post. The Best Loved Doll was the book I always looked for at the library. I checked it out so many times, that my mother finally bought it for me.

    When I was a little older, I discovered my mother’s Nancy Drew books at my grandmother’s house. She had maybe six books, and I read them all. At that time a Nancy Drew book cost $1.50. Plus eight cents tax. I’d save my money, and whenever we went to Louisville (the closest city with a book store) I’d talk my parents into taking me to the book store. I checked out other books from the library, but I wanted to buy the Nancy Drew books. They have survived numerous moves with me, and even though I had sons, I never could bring myself to part with them. Now I have two granddaughters, and maybe they’ll read them one day.

    • Avatar
      Anna Cannard January 29, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

      I remember when I was first taught how to hold a pencil. I was so eager to work on my penmanship right away, because I knew the sooner I could learn how to write, the sooner I could share all my stories with people. I remember being fascinated by the thought of having another form of storytelling that people could come back to later on and hear without me having to verbally recite it.

  2. Avatar
    DIANA HARKNESS January 28, 2015 at 5:18 am #

    I’m sure we’ll all come up with some similar authors! I don’t remember my early childhood, but from about 5th grade on James Thurber, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, the Bible and and various lyricists and poets. I still remember the poems I learned at that age and the lyrics from musical theater: West Side Story, Pirates of Penzance, Singing In the Rain, Oklahoma, and others.

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    Judith Robl January 28, 2015 at 5:28 am #

    I have always loved books, but the phrase that got me really into the magic of words was “the tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells.”

    Thank you, EAP. He was the forerunner of Dr. Seuss – whom I still love and would love to be able to emulate.

    The Oz books (yes, there was more and one) and Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Nancy Drew multiples. I still have them. Some of them bear inscriptions that are sixty years old.

    “For Judith, Christmas, 1947, Doctor.” Ah, the memories!

    • Avatar
      Johnnie Alexander January 28, 2015 at 7:35 am #

      Judith, I read every single Oz book our local library carried. And they had quite a few. Such fun days!

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    Beverly Brooks January 28, 2015 at 6:42 am #

    Nice walk among the memories for us. Thank you.

    Mine were Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Little Women, Heidi, Trixie Belden and the Mystery of the Mansion!

    • Avatar
      Johnnie Alexander January 28, 2015 at 7:36 am #

      I loved Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, too. I had that book and read it more than once. I wish I still had it.

  5. Avatar
    Chris Storm January 28, 2015 at 7:20 am #

    Fun to think back! I loved every Nancy Drew book, Hardy Boys. I was obsessed with Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. And I loved poetry! That’s an odd mix.

  6. Avatar
    Johnnie Alexander January 28, 2015 at 7:41 am #

    I read tons of books as a young child, but I paid little attention to the author until I started reading Beverly Cleary’s books. It was like a little light bulb went off in my brain–books were written by people who sometimes wrote more than one–I’m not sure exactly, but for the first time I looked for an “author” when Mom took me to the library instead of just taking home the books that looked interesting.

    Matt Christopher may have been the second author who appealed to me, though I was older when I read his books. I am NOT an athlete, but I loved his sports stories.

    This is a fun trip into the past. So many good books.

  7. Avatar
    Sandy Faye Mauck January 28, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    I still have the book I learned to sight read from. I remember struggling so hard to get the picture with the picture of the word and I remember when it clicked and I could read. I saw the words as pictures.
    My best loved book was Cinderella.
    I read all the little blue biography books of the presidents wives and Sacajawea and Nancy Drew, too, Jackie.
    And I loved poetry. The only thing about Old English lit I liked were Paradise Lost and The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.
    I loved reading Dr. Seuss to my kids, I talk in rhyme all the time. (pun intended).

  8. Avatar
    Jodie Bailey January 28, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    Trixie Belden!!! I devoured every single one of those books and am not introducing them to my daughter. My best friend and I couldn’t get enough. As for when I fell in love with words… I don’t ever remember not loving them. I do remember my grandmother had what seemed like every single copy of Reader’s Digest ever printed stored in a closet. I read each and every one of them. They were some of my favorite things to read from the time I was probably in kindergarten, and I think they’re probably why I’m so good at Jeopardy today. 🙂 I have no idea what happened to them. Some of them would probably be collector’s items now.

  9. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser January 28, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    For me, it was Walter Lord’s “Incredible Victory”; I was eight when i read it, and can still quote parts verbatim.

    His classic narrative of the Battle of Midway showed me, even at that age, how words could preserve in the temporal the lives of heroes.

  10. Avatar
    Keli Gwyn January 28, 2015 at 9:00 am #

    Words are wonderful!

    Some picture books that captivated me as a girl: The Little House, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Story About Ping (a duckling)

    As I got older, I discovered that amazing place known as the library, where I checked out stacks of books. Some stand out as favorites: the Little House books, The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew mysteries, Beverly Cleary’s fun stories, Harriet the Spy, and Little Women, to name a few.

    In my teens I discovered those sugary sweet, sigh-inducing European-set Harlequin romances of yesteryear, and I was smitten. I dreamed of writing stories like them someday, and now, forty years later, I am! I have two Love Inspired Historicals contracted and will be diving into a new story soon. Playing with words and getting paid to do so is beyond wonderful!

  11. Avatar
    Amber Schamel January 28, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    Wow, that question takes some thinking. I’ve loved books and words for as long as I can remember, but some of the first books I loved was Harold and the Purple Crayon, Poky Little Puppy, and the Little House books.

    To me, Harold’s Purple Crayon was like books and writing are to me. You can create anything, go anywhere, all from the safety of your bedroom.

  12. Avatar
    Joe Plemon January 28, 2015 at 9:30 am #

    I still have twenty one Hardy Boys books displayed on a bookcase in my office. They have faded, stained brown covers, and their bindings are mostly unbound. During 7th grade, my dual love affair with baseball and reading was satisfied with John R. Tunis books. He was the sports YA master of the 1950’s, and I read everything he ever wrote.

    Going WAY back, my Saturday mornings as a preschooler often included sitting in my inner sanctum–a large cardboard box–and reading comic books. I didn’t understand many words back then, but I loved them anyway.

  13. Avatar
    Jerzy January 28, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    I was born reading. I didn’t even cry when I came out. My mom was afraid I was dead. But I was just reading.

    My earliest book memory is a little thing called “The Animals’ Train Ride”by Miriam Clark Potter. Then there was any “Little Golden Book”, anything by Virginia Lee Burton, L.M. Montgomery, Maud Hart Lovelace, and L Frank Baum. And then every printed word there was!

  14. Avatar
    Shirley Brosius January 28, 2015 at 9:41 am #

    My mother read poetry to me as a child. My favorite was Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. Not sure why a preschooler would be fascinated with that poem, but I was. Along with lots others, of course. I still have my list of “favorites” that she read to me. Although I didn’t start serious writing until my 50s, I think those early years led me to this path.

  15. Avatar
    Sarah Chafins January 28, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    I believe my love for words was influenced by my dad. The only book I ever remember him reading, growing up, was the Bible. However, he was a great storyteller and could spin stories like no other, in my opinion.

  16. Avatar
    Patti Jo Moore January 28, 2015 at 10:57 am #

    I have the BEST childhood memories of my precious Mama reading to me when I was very, very young (classic fairy tales, including my favorite Jack and the Beanstalk). Then later on I loved sooo many books—Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and others that weren’t considered classics. Now I’m yearning to re-read these old favorites! 😉

  17. Avatar
    Carrie Talbott January 28, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    Uncle Remus for the win. Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, read by my grandma with theatrical voices? Classic.

    And of course Frog and Toad. Standing on the piano bench at the Mount Hermon Writers Conference, my dad stuck me out in front of hundreds of writers every year. I didn’t even get all the clever jokes, but I was hooked.

    Where The Red Fern Grows encapsulates 3rd-5th grade; I liked that book a little too much, hence the three book reports for three different teachers. Oops.

  18. Avatar
    Susan Steig January 28, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    The first story that I fell in love with was Winken, Blinken and Nod. I devoured Golden Books and my Mom kept me supplied. Then the next one was Stone Soup in grammar school. Then my Dad’s secretary gave me all her Grace Livingston Hill books. I was in love. I still have them and still read them. I read voraciously, everywhere. I read by flashlight in bed at night. I sometimes have 2 or 3 books in bed with me. As a child, my parents got me a set of World Book Encyclopedia. I kept them in the headboard bookcase of my bed and read them when I woke up. Books are my best friends.

  19. Avatar
    lorisroel@gmail.com January 28, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    Ramona and Beezus, Harriet the Spy, Little Women, A Russian Anthology of Children’s Literature, an illustrated Children’s Bible, Anderson’s Fairy Tales, Trixie Beldon, The Phantom Tollbooth, Little House on the Prairie, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Greek mythology, Caps for Sale, Ferdinand, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, poetry anthologies, and joke books – especially funny stories from the astronauts.

  20. Avatar
    Brenda Clayton January 28, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    As a teenager, I was extremely moved by ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee’ and totally identified with Frankie in ‘Member of the Wedding’. As a young mother, reading ‘Goodnight Moon’ was an almost nightly ritual my kids continued with their kids. And Shel Silverstein’s ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’ will forever be my favorite collection of poems, except for the series of ‘prayer poem’ books by Ruth Harms Calkin.

  21. Avatar
    Naomi Musch January 28, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    Posts like these make me so nostalgic! The first three favorites that come to mind, because the stories have always stayed with me (all from my grade-school years) are Plain Girl by Virginia Sorensen, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speares, and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.

  22. Avatar
    Voni Harris January 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    Laura Ingalls taught me the love of being a writer.

    Anne of Avonlea taught me the love of words.

    Jo March taught me writing was a dream.

    Madeleine L’Engle taught me the joy of other worlds.

    Mom taught me the dream could be mine. Only she’s not fictional.

    Of course, there’s Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, and hoards of others…

  23. Avatar
    Wendy L. Macdonald January 28, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    Karen, I agree with Jackie that this is a fun post.

    My love of words began with the Dr. Seuss books my dad read to me each time one arrived in the mail. In grade 4 I chose The Secret Garden from the library and then I was off and running with novels.

    I’ve read so many of the classics to my three kids over 12 years of homeschooling. Now all three of my teens love to read and have read many of the same books I’d read to them (such as the Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. & The Hobbit ).

    Books are a blessing. And so was this post. ❀

  24. Avatar
    Sally Bradley January 28, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    I loved Trixie Beldon! (It sounds so dated now.) It was hard to beat a red-head sleuth like her.

    The Little House books hooked me. My mom read them to me when I was about six, while my little sister napped. I’ve loved those books ever since and have loved stories since then too.

  25. Avatar
    Sabrina Cornman January 28, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

    Where The Wild Things Are was the first book I loved, and the first one I learned to “read”. Before I started school I stayed with my grandma while my parents worked. By the time I was 4 years old, I had heard that story so much that I had memorized the words on each page. My grandmother’s friends would ooh and ahh at how well I could “read”!
    When I was in third grade I had a teacher who read aloud to us each afternoon. I made up my mind that I would become a writer, that’s all I ever wanted to be. I’m a teacher now… at least I get to read aloud to my students!

  26. Avatar
    Susan Gregory January 28, 2015 at 6:45 pm #

    My love affair with words must have begun with nursery rhymes. Soon there was A.A. Milne and other poetry, “Little Brown Bear” by Elizabeth Upham, “Five Little Peppers”, “Silver Skates”, “Bronze Bow”, and the list goes on and on and on.
    I still have most of my childhood books as well as an extensive list of those she read to me.
    A compulsive reader and book collector? Whatever gave you that idea?

  27. Avatar
    Heather January 29, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    My love for words grew as I grew. I love C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R Tolkien’s books. I didn’t really start writing until I started reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I don’t know what it was about his writing that encouraged me, except that as I read it I could really imagine being right there as the events unfolded. I kept thinking, “I can do that, too. But, with a christian perspective.” There were other books I enjoyed as a child, but I can’t remember the author’s name or the series name.
    I also learned that I express myself better in writing. It gives me a chance to think and speak from the heart.

  28. Avatar
    Eloise Whyte January 31, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    I remember loving the Little Golden Books as a young child. My favourites were anything illustrated by Eloise Wilkin (I think it helped that we had the same first name LOL – to this day I have never met another Eloise face to face). My absolute fave of hers was “Where Did the Baby Go?”

    When I finally got to reading chapter books, I remember some favourites to be the Choose Your Own Adventure stories, Secret Seven (yet I never liked Famous Five, I don’t know why), Trixie Beldon, and Sweet Valley High. What a mixture!

  29. Avatar
    Sarah E. Bennett February 4, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    The “Anne of Green Gables” series made me stay up late, shirts tucked under the door so that my mom didn’t see that I was up late reading…again. To this day, any book by Lucy Maud Montgomery tickles my fancy. Shel Silverstein opened my mind to word play and lyrical writing.

  30. Avatar
    Lisa Herrin February 4, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    Karen, at ten years of age, the school librarian crooked her finger to motion for me to come near her. She squatted, leaned forward and whispered in my ear, “You want to work in the library today?”

    She instilled in me a love for books that never left. Some of my favorites were Boxcar Children and Amelia Bedelia.

    Thank you for recalling this special memory.

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